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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Loving Animals

On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Loving Animals

On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love

Sex with animals is one of the last taboos but, for a practice that is generally regarded as abhorrent, it is remarkable how many books, films, plays, paintings, and photographs depict the subject. So, what does loving animals mean? In this book the renowned historian Joanna Bourke explores the modern history of sex between humans and animals. Bourke looks at the changing meanings of “bestiality” and “zoophilia,” assesses the psychiatric and sexual aspects, and she concludes by delineating an ethics of animal loving.

184 pages | 22 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: General History

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"Bourke believes society should take a more nuanced approach to the matter. In her new book, Loving Animals, she points out that studies suggesting a link between bestiality and psychosis should be treated with caution due to sampling bias, because they were conducted on people already within the penal system, rather than a cross-section of the population. The sexually frustrated young farm-hand who interferes with one of his mares shouldn’t necessarily occupy the same taxonomic box as the bona fide sex pest; his indiscretion is, in the words of the psychiatrist Philip Q. Roche, an 'adaptive expedient of bucolic loneliness'—a matter of circumstance rather than proclivity; contingent rather than pathological."

Houman Barekat | Times Literary Supplement

"Bourke’s Loving Animals is an exploration of the ethical possibilities and often grim reality of modern bestiality... Her thesis is that while sexual interaction between human and nonhuman animals is very often abusive, it needn’t be. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, she makes the case for a form of human-animal love that isn’t merely free from harm, but is governed by reciprocity, respect, and care. Taking this seriously can, Bourke thinks, help us understand what we owe our fellow nonhuman animals, and the sex humans have with each other."

London Review of Books

"In this courageous book, Bourke combines scholarship and clear prose to tackle head-on one of our most stigmatized taboos—sexual relations between humans and nonhumans. In doing so, she provides an illuminating perspective on a subject too often swept under the rug. Even if so-called zoophilia were a rare aberration, it ought to be addressed. That it is far more widespread than commonly believed justifies the need for thorough, contemporary examination."

Jonathan Balcombe, author of "What a Fish Knows" and "Super Fly"

“This bold and imaginative book is thoughtful and—inevitably—provocative. With characteristic compassion and insight, Bourke undertakes a tour de force of historical and cultural attitudes towards human-animal relations to guide us through serious ethical and political questions concerning sexuality, power, and consent.”

Julie-Marie Strange, Durham University

"Bourke’s post-anthropocentric approach to human–animal love and lust is a remarkable and much-needed contribution to both queer studies and animal studies. She offers a critical and thorough analysis of the joys, hopes, and dangers of intimacy with the most vulnerable of all lovers—animals."

Monika Bakke, Philosophy Department, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan (Poland)

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